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Sri Lanka, hundreds of people risk their lives to reach Australia, as Labor government looks less hawkish than its predecessor

Colombo (Asia News) Due to the economic crisis in recent weeks, more than 300 Sri Lankans have tried to reach Australia by paying huge sums of money to human traffickers. The Sri Lankan Navy intercepted several fishing boats loaded with asylum seekers, but at least two boats managed to reach Australian waters. Asia News I contacted some people who tried to leave the country, after ‘agents’ told them ‘this is the best time to get to Australia safely’ because the new Labor government has ‘softened the rules on border matters, unlike the previous Liberal government’. Despite constant television news warning citizens not to leave the country illegally, and although Australia’s policy towards asylum seekers has not changed at all with the new government, it appears that Australia has become the destination of choice for those who can afford to leave.

It is not the poor who leave, on the contrary. According to a senior naval officer, “these people who are trying to leave Sri Lanka are not poor, on the contrary, they come from a certain economic background because they have paid thousands of dollars.” The officer stressed that human traffickers are interested in making a huge profit “at the expense of others”, instead of “caring about the safety of their passengers”, given that “the lives of these people are at risk during the flight.” Without basic sanitation, adequate food or clean water, most passengers get sick during the 21-day journey from Batticaloa on Sri Lanka’s east coast to Christmas Island off Western Australia.

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Some allegory. Silva, 40, a father of two, and Gyaraj, 52, a father of three, were fishermen from Trincomalee on the east coast who were once a profitable “business”, but are now unable to fish due to a shortage of fish and fuel for fishing boats and their children “find it difficult” Going to school because of transportation problems. So, “What can we do in this situation? The only solution is to go to a better country like Australia,” they told AsiaNews. Pillai, 36, from Negombo, a shop owner, was preparing to leave with his wife when their “agent” told them that although the Australian government would not initially grant them “permanent residence”, after some time had passed. settles there. He was told that “this is the case with the Nadesalingam family”, who left Sri Lanka a few years ago and were able to settle in Biloila, central Queensland, after a four-year legal battle that ended in June.

to let them condemn. According to those wishing to leave, the trip to Australia costs about one million Sri Lankan rupees, equivalent to about 4 thousand dollars. Some have borrowed from their families and friends to pay the “boat owners”. In July, it was a class shipAustralian Border Force It intercepted a boat loaded with Sri Lankan immigrants and escorted it to Colombo port, where it arrived on August 5. The boat was carrying 46 people from Valaichenai, Batticaloa, Pasikuda, Ampara, Bibeli and Muthur.

* Arundhathi Abisinghi – Asians

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